A senior vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations yesterday hinted at the possibility that the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget may not be approved on third and final reading before Congress adjourns for Halloween recess on October 13.
But Compostela Valley Rep. Maria Carmen Zamora, the panel senior vice chairman, said the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is doing its best to pass the national budget on final reading this week.
Zamora underscored the huge task of sending the 2019 national budget to the Senate this week following some delays that stemmed from the alleged P52-billion insertions that were ordered realigned by Arroyo to important projects for equitable and fair distribution of funds.
“Based on the volume of work that needs to be done and the fact that we’re still resolving all the matters taken up during the debates, we’ll try our best [to approve the national budget this week], but we may not have enough material time to get it approved on third [and final] reading before the recess,” said Zamora in an interview.
Nevertheless, Zamora said the “committee is working round the clock to make up for the lag incurred during the plenary schedule, but rest assured that we’ll be able to pass the 2019 budget on time.”
Congress will begin its break on October 13, 2018 and will resume session on November 12, 2018.
After 11 days of exhaustive plenary deliberations, the House of Representatives, through viva voce voting, approved the national budget on second reading Wednesday night.
The plenary debates on the budget measure had been delayed following the discovery of the alleged P52-billion insertions by the former House leadership intended for specific legislative districts of some congressmen.
The allocations or alleged insertions that were being questioned were already realigned to the following items when the House convened into a committee of the whole: P5 billion as additional National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund for the rehabilitation of areas badly hit by typhoon Ompong, especially Cagayan Valley; P3 billion for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the Department of Health (DoH) which Andaya said was reduced to “practically nil” at P50 million; P3 billion for the DoH’s Health Human Resources Development “to stave off the mass layoff of 6,000 nurses, and doctors and dentists as well”; P1.2 billion for the Capital Outlay of State Universities and Colleges (SUCs); P3 billion for Technical-Vocational Laboratories under the Department of Education; P11 billion for roads to decongest traffic in urban areas; P10 billion for roads for identified tourism areas; another P10 billion for roads to trade areas, economic zones, livelihood centers and markets; and P5 billion for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) farm-to-market roads (FMRs).
The timely approval of the budget ensures there will be no budget re-enactment next year.
Arroyo has been closely following the progress of HB No. 8169 to ensure the House remains on track with its schedule to pass it on final reading.
In last Wednesday night’s period of individual amendments, House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. said pursuant to parliamentary precedence, he proposed the creation of a small committee to receive and resolve amendments to HB No. 8169.
He named the following as members to the small committee: For the Majority: Zamora, Reps. Federico Sandoval II and Corazon Nunez-Malanyaon; for the Committee on Rules: Andaya; and for the Minority: Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, Reps. Anthony Bravo and Edcel Lagman.
The deadline for the submission of amendments is set tomorrow.
During the lump sum fund interpellation, Anak Mindanao (AMIN) party-list Rep. Makmod Mending Jr. expressed concern that the release of the P3.5 billion fund for the Marawi Rehabilitation, which currently has a validity of one year, might encounter bureaucratic delay.
He explained that this is posed by the establishment of Task Force Bangon Marawi, which became an added layer to the budget release that previously only had to pass through the Office of Civil Defense and the Office of the President.